Reading round-up

Buckle up guys, I’ve been adding to my “reading round-up” list for months now — today’s the day! I’m getting it done!

Grace told me about a NYC gathering she’d gone to called Catholic Underground, which is totally the kind of thing I would have loved when I was in college, and the name of the director:

Of course, it was fabulous with an hour of adoration and getting to see one of the actual missionary images of Our Lady of Guadalupe. But the reason I’m emailing you is not just to tell you about a great experience but to share with you an awesome religious name I spotted. On the little flier we got walking in the door there was a nice little letter from the director of Catholic Underground, and his name is…….Br. Mark-Mary!!! How cool is that!? It’s so rare that you see men take feminine names, so it just makes me so happy to see it when it happens!

I love that!! #MenWhoLoveMary

Emma wanted to be sure I’d seen this post (from early December) over at Swistle’s blog, saying, “Oh boy, does Swistle ever need Sancta Nomina over at her blog today!!!!” Haha! The mom writing is expecting her third, and her older two are Harriet Paloma (“Hattie”), and Hugo Campion. Ohh my! In her dilemma letter she writes things like,

Their middle names feel (to my ears) more modern and have religious significance (“Paloma,” meaning “dove” which stands both for peace and for the Holy Spirit, “Campion,” after St. Edmund Campion)


[regarding the fact they’re considering Consuelo] I have always been fascinated by the French and Spanish-language tradition of naming children after the Virgin Mary, but using her many titles or apparition locations. English is pretty limited when it comes to honor names for the Blessed Mother. We have Mary, Marie, and some more unusual, but related, variants such as Mae, Mamie, Maren, Molly. But nothing compared with the range and diversity of the French/Spanish naming tradition: Lourdes, Carmel, Soledad, Guadalupe, Luz, Amparo, Araceli, Socorro, Belen, Pilar, Delores. And on and on! My daughter’s godmother is Monserrat after Our Lady of Monserrat (love!!).”

I would indeed have loved to get my hands on that dilemma! But this bit from Swistle sums up my feelings pretty exactly (the question was Margaret vs. Consuelo as a first name):

Margaret Consuelo is a pretty kick-butt name, and coordinates beautifully with Harriet Paloma and Hugo Campion. Paloma (peace) and Consuelo (solace) are particularly well-matched.”

Speaking of Swistle, I also loved the sib set in this post: Charles (Huck), Isaac, Katherine, and Seth. (I love Huck for Charles!!) One of the commenters (our very own eclare!) said she guessed the family might be Catholic, based on the size of the family, the kids’ names (which she accurately described as “saint/biblical”), and some on their list (including Xavier), and I agree. I was disappointed by Swistle’s reply though — she said, “I don’t think Seth or Charlotte are saint names,” which is misleading. Seth the Patriarch (from the Old Testament) appears in Book of Saints by the Monks of Ramsgate as well as Our Sunday Visitor’s Encyclopedia of Saints, and his feast day is March 1. There are also several Blesseds Charlotte, and, as eclare correctly pointed out, Charlotte can be and is often used as an honor name for any of the Sts. Charles/Karl/Carl/Carlo/Karol.

One more Swistle post: Baby Names to Consider: Classic/Traditional Names with Atypical/Non-Traditional Nicknames. I loved reading the ideas from her and the commenters!

Shelby told me about this article: The Saint behind the Jagermeister Logo is also one of the 14 Holy Helpers. I love finding out stuff like that! As Shelby put it, it “goes well with your post about Catholic things in plain sight like the Sophie the Giraffe.” “Catholic things in plain sight”! I love that!

It reminds me of something else I read recently: Nutella Founder Dies, Said Secret of Success Was Our Lady of Lourdes: Devout Catholic took employees to visit site of Marian apparitions. Yes, Nutella is now my new favorite food. 🙂

Then there was this: A 3yo boy named Diesel will only answer to Popcorn, and so his parents are going to legally change his name.

The Dictionary of Medieval Names from European Sources is one of my favorite resources, and I was so struck by one of its recent blog posts about the rise of certain names in Protestant records after the Reformation that I raised a question:


The Apocrypha in this context are the books (or parts of books, as in the case of Daniel) that are part of the Catholic bible but not part of the Protestant bible. (As opposed to books Catholics consider to be apocryphal, like the Protoevangelium of James.) It was so strange to me that Judith (the book of Judith is rejected by Protestants) and Susan (the English form of Susanna(h), from the part of the book of Daniel that’s considered apocryphal by Protestants) would receive an uptick in use by Protestants after the Reformation. So interesting! And even better — the DMNES team (including our own Sara) is on it!


I find stuff like this so fascinating. As I said to Sara, I learn so much about culture, religious, politics, history, and language through names. I can’t wait to read what she comes up with!

I was also interested by this bit in the DMNES post on New Testament names after the Reformation, about our dear St. Anne:

Anne: This name could be classified as either an Old Testament name or a New Testament name. In the OT, this was the name of the mother of Samuel (more often modernly transliterated as Hannah); in the apocrypha, Anne is usually identified as the mother of Mary, though she is not named explicitly in the NT. Whatever the origin and whatever the spelling, this name was always common; it was, in fact, one of the most common feminine names throughout all of Europe throughout the Middle Ages, due primarily to the early veneration of the mother of Mary. The name was so well entrenched that the Protestant turning away from the veneration of the saints did not cause any reduction in its popularity.” (emphasis mine)

How cool is that! It’s also particularly funny that its entrenchment was “due primarily to the early veneration of the mother of Mary” — not only a saint, despite “the Protestant turning away from the veneration of the saints,” but a saint who’s never named in the bible we all agree on, nor even in the apocrypha rejected by Protestantism — Mary’s mother’s name is only given in the Protoevangelium of James, so its use is totally due to Catholic tradition. She’s a great lady, that St. Anne. 🙂 ❤

Finally, I was enjoying these dilemmas on the Baby Name Wizard site recently:

Thoughts on Gemma

Bishop as a first name?

Religious or not religious? (this mom has since figured out a solution, but I really liked some of the ideas offered in this post)

(Also, I think the commenter Optatus Cleary would like it here. 🙂 )

Whew! I think that’s all I have for today!

ETA: Oh! Also this: Twitter Reveals That All Kids Hate Their Names (my takeaway: pray and do the best you can, and then don’t worry), and this: Are There Any More Z Names? Neither the author (Laura Wattenberg herself) nor any of the commenters mentioned Zelie/Azelie!




42 thoughts on “Reading round-up

  1. This was so great!!! Thanks for mentioning my email. If any other readers are in NYC, let me know! We can go together to Catholic Underground! Truly an amazing event!

    I’m very interested in the conversation of Catholic names vs Protestant names, and really, if there is even such a thing as that. Part of me definitely feels like yes, and part of me definitely feels like no. Mainly because there’s so much overlap. Some would say that my name is extremely Catholic, while others would probably say my name is extremely Protestant (especially Evangelical). Or the name Evangeline, which to me is very Catholic, but to others would be very Evangelical, for obvious reasons. Also, interesting facts about Saint Anne and the name Anne. I wonder, if the uptick in OT names during and after the Reformation is more just a naming trend that would have taken place anyway, and was intensified by the Reformation. When I think of it, no names feel particularly “Protestant” to me, like how certain names feel “Catholic”. Mainly because Protestant is SUCH a large title and large group of people, where as Catholics are more homogenous.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I was thinking, don’t the priests on EWTN (Franciscan Friars of the Renewal maybe?) often use Mary instead of a surname? I know for sure there’s a Fr. Mark Mary and I thought there were a few others who did that as well.

    Onto the Catholic vs Protestant names thing, I heard loooong ago, much too long ago to recall the source (probably around age 17) that Shakespeare’s daughter being named Susanna(h?) corresponded to a rediscovery of the Apocrypha, or a recent translation of it. I know some speculate that Shakespeare himself was an underground Catholic, but even if he wasn’t, maybe there really is something to the Apocrypha being made available for reading even if it wasn’t canonical.

    Also, unlike the other Grace, I did grow up having a sense of there being Catholic vs Protestant names. It’s possible that this was colored by the fact that my parents were converts to Catholicism so our extended family is Protestant & Mormon. My experience of this could be observing what our non-Catholic relatives and the other homeschoolers we knew (in those days, Catholic homeschooling was extremely uncommon) were named vs the other Catholics we knew. My impression was always that Old Testament names = Protestant, with few exceptions. Micah, Zechariah, Josiah? Oh, Protestant. Mary? Always Catholic. Also in my early teens, I heard Frank McCourt on NPR talking about how they knew whether people were Protestant or Catholic by their first names when he was growing up in Ireland. I only remember him specifically mentioning Isabel (Protestant) and Paddy (could go either way—had to be careful).

    When I was a younger mom and I named my first two children names that I loved but weren’t specifically chosen as “Catholic” names (in fact, Elisabeth was a family name in my mom’s Protestant family, and James is a family name in my husband’s Protestant family), I remember going to a Catholic mom’s group when James was a newborn, and here I was with ONLY two children, and they were FOUR YEARS APART, and everyone else’s children were named Kolbe, Bosco, John Paul, Gianna, Thérèse, Mary Rose, etc. In that moment, I felt TOTALLY out of place, with my Protestant-named children. (And my faith was in kind of a vulnerable place then, I felt disconnected from it.) 10 years later, I wouldn’t feel like that AT ALL, and I know SO many more Catholics now, not just this small group, and realize that almost anything is a go for Catholic names. I totally do not feel self-conscious at all anymore, but it’s funny to think back to when I really, really did.

    Also, Twitter, you lie! All kids don’t hate their names!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I’ve been thinking of pointing Optatus Cleary over here, but I tend to think of it when I’m rocking my toddler and reading from my phone and it’s too much copying and pasting for me to do with a head in between me and my phone.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Oh yeah! And my sister had a housemate whose first name was Bishop way back when. I don’t know the guy’s story at all, I’d forgotten all about him until now!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow! I’d be so interested to know what his parents were thinking! I actually like names like Duke, Baron (though there is the “barren” thing), Deacon, but somehow they all seem more usable than Bishop. I could come around though, I think, especially if it was a family surname.

      Liked by 1 person

    • My one fear with more title like names, like Deacon and Bishop, is what if the boy decides to become a Deacon or is blessed enough to become a Bishop? Imagine Deacon Deacon Jones or Bishop Bishop Jones. It’s just weird to me. But I guess if you love it, then something simple like that shouldn’t stop you.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Ha, now everyone knows what a Swistle addict I am! 😉 Thanks for defending me… I never, ever post anything remotely controversial online, and then the one time I do Swistle herself comes after me. So embarrassed, lol! I did look up the origins of Charlotte after my post and saw the link, but didn’t want to beat a dead horse. I did find it curious that the family already has a Charles, and their two final contenders for girl names were both Charles-derivatives.

    Also, I thought of you the second she started in on Temperance Ruth, “Tru” etc and other ways to get nicknames. 🙂

    I didn’t know that about Judith… bumps that name up a few notches in my estimation.

    Also, the Nutella story: just, wow! So neat.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This makes me think of the name Augustana – I always loved Augustine and I do enjoy classic feminizations of male names. I don’t like Tina, so Augustina was out. So then I researched Augustana, only to find that (besides the band) the name is associated with the Augsberg Confession and Evangelical Lutherans.
    Super kudos for starting a convo with DMNES – there’s an onomastic team I would love to be a part of!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. My friend and I talked a bit about the story of the family thinking of changing Diesel’s name to Popcorn. I hate to admit that I was a tad snobby, but I totally raised my eyebrows at that when I first read it. Diesel isn’t my style, but it seems to be used as an actual name… Popcorn not so much. (Also, that’s why there are nicknames?)

    BUT I came around a little bit when I remembered The Outsiders – Ponyboy and Sodapop. Totally ridiculous names but after reading books I think any name can be endearing haha. Popcorn reminds me of that a bit. (*I* still wouldn’t do it, but my eyebrows are down now.) Also…… I always found it odd that Ponyboy and Sodapop had an older brother named Darrel. Talk about different styles hahaha.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I loved this whole comment! I’m not familiar with The Outsiders, but Ponyboy and Sodapop are great examples! Also reminds me of Where the Heart Is — Lexi’s kids have names like Brownie and Praline (though I think those are nicknames for Brummell and Pauline, if I remember correctly). Also loved that you said “my eyebrows are down now” hahaha! (I agree that I think perhaps this is where the importance of formal names vs. nicknames would need to be clarified.)


      • Brownie and Praline! I’m starting to feel like I need to step up my (completely hypothetical at this point) nicknaming game!

        Oh – not related BUT I’m reading a book (Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick) and it’s got some great names in it. Of course there are a lot of Johns, Williams, Marys, Katherines etc, but there were some I was surprised to see, as well. One of the women sailing here on the Mayflower gave birth to a boy while still at sea and they named him Oceanus. Two other pilgrims had children named Love and Wrestling. (Those two surprised me much more than Oceanus haha.) I can’t vouch for the book yet as I’m only 40 pages in, but I thought of you/this blog/fellow readers when I came across those names!

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